Keith Gessen on Fitzgerald: Defending A Title

Gessen's title harks back to a work by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and some readers aren't pleased.
  • Transcript

TRANSCRIPT

Question: How did you summon the courage to use Fitzgerald's title for your book?

Keith Gessen: You know, I’ve been puzzled by this reaction to the title because it seems to me to be so clearly a joke- right? Fitzgerald wrote these very beautiful stories that I love- they’re very sentimental. And, you know, very sharp- they’re great. The Rich Boys is one of my favorite stories of all time- Winter Dreams- it’s a great story. You know, so- and he called his book with a slightly sentimental title: All The Sad Young Men. When you add the word literary, it seems very clearly to be a joke- All The Sad Young Literary Men- that’s not sentimental, that’s funny, I thought. So, now did I desecrate F. Scott Fitzgerald? Maybe. And I apologize, but I certainly, I certainly meant it in a satiric vein.

Recorded: 3/18/08